It’s easy to make fat-free chili beans on the stove or Instant Pot. Serve them atop a salad or mash them for healthy refried beans!
I mentioned before that there are two salads that I have gotten into a rut of eating all the time. Well, this is one of them (and I notice from the comments that many of you are taco salad fans too.) What you see is a bed of spinach and baby lettuces tossed with lime juice, topped by chili-spiced pinto beans and homemade salsa. I’ve also included a little fresh tomato and avocado on the side.
I have to admit to you that on most days I’m too rushed to make both chili beans and salsa, so often one or the other (or both!) comes from a can. But, if you have time to make them from scratch, it’s completely worth it. Besides being able to control what goes into your beans and salsa, you will be amazed at how much better the salad tastes with fresh ingredients.
For the chili beans, I used a pressure cooker, but you can cook these on the stove top or in a slow cooker. The pressure cooker just makes it so much faster.
Homemade Chili Beans for Taco Salad
- 1 pound dried pinto beans rinsed, picked over, and soaked
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 whole dried red chilies optional
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste see tip below
- 2-3 teaspoons chili powder may use all or part chipotle chili powder
- salt to taste
- 1 green bell pepper minced
First Step for All Methods
- Cover the beans with water and presoak them overnight; OR do a quick-soak by bringing them to a boil for one minute, removing them from the heat, and allowing them to stand, covered, for one hour.
Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
- Drain the soaking liquid from the beans. Place them in the pressure cooker with the water, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chilies. Close the pressure cooker and bring it to high pressure; cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. (Instant Pot: Set pressure cooking time to 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
Regular Stovetop or Crockpot
- If you’re cooking them in a regular pot or crockpotCook until the beans are just soft enough to eat. The time will vary depending on your beans and method of cooking, but on the stove, allow at least an hour of cooking; in the slow cooker, count on at least 3 hours on high or 6 on low. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Final Step for All Methods
- Open the cooker and remove the dried chilies, if you used them (squeeze them gently to get out all the flavor, but don’t add the seeds to the beans if you don’t want them to be spicy). Add the remaining ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to your own taste. Serve hot with fresh salsa.
Basic Salsa:When I make salsa, I never measure ingredients, so this is just a list of what I usually add:
- diced tomatoes
- chopped green pepper
- chopped red onion
- minced garlic
- minced jalapeño pepper
- lime juice
- black pepper
Nutritional info is approximate.
Okay, that’s 4 out of 5 salads for my week of salads. Tune in tomorrow to see another of my old favorites!
Great Food and Fun PlacesJune 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm
Your salad looks and sounds delicious! An interesting variation of a ‘taco salad’! Thanks for sharing the recipes.
Alice Louise KarowJune 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm
What a great summer lunch or dinner! I love the chili beans recipe – such a rich mix of tastes. The only thing I would add to this salad is fresh Cilantro for an extra pop of fresh flavor.
Alice Louise Karow
Author, Cook from Your Heart: Recipes for Transformation
Your body is sacred space. Care for it well!
NatalieJune 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm
My husband and I recently made the decision to become vegan, and this is one of the first recipes we tried. These beans are incredible. When I smashed them and put them into the skillet, my husband swore that I had added beef! Thank you so much for your fantastic ideas and recipes!
MeridithAugust 20, 2010 at 10:00 am
Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been pressure cooking my own beans for quite some time now but I usually keep them plain so this will be a nice variation!
Have you ever tried jarred tomato paste? I buy Bionaturae Organic Tomato Paste and it’s wonderful! It’s so good I use it to make my tomato sauce too!
SusanVAugust 20, 2010 at 10:05 am
Thanks! I’ll have to look for that!
MeridithAugust 20, 2010 at 10:23 am
I have to buy it online…..but it’s totally worth it!
KorineAugust 20, 2010 at 10:16 am
Looks delicious! I’m definitely going to give the beans a try.
Another tip about canned tomato paste: freeze little 1 tablespoon piles of paste on wax paper, then dump them in a freezer bag.
MaggieJuly 10, 2011 at 8:26 am
I tried this last night – it was excellent!! The chilli is definitely something I will make again for my meat-loving son! It was excellent on top of the salad!
mSeptember 14, 2011 at 11:17 am
anything with bean and avo — i’m all about it! yummers!
beans are my FAV food! 🙂
leslieSeptember 14, 2011 at 11:26 am
Hi Susan, just a note that I’ve been following your blog and am so appreciative of all the wonderful recipes. I’ve been attempting to transfer over to a plant-based diet and doing pretty good so far, with just a couple of slip ups here and there. This taco salad looks delicious – and will also be something I can get my husband to eat, too, so I’m not making two different meals. Thank you! – Leslie (www.LeslieTentler.com).
LisaSeptember 14, 2011 at 11:29 am
I make that same salad frequently too – maybe even got the idea from you! I can’t remember. I love it! I make a dressing using just vegan mayo and chipotle hot sauce. So good!!
GetSkinnyGoVeganSeptember 14, 2011 at 11:31 am
LOVE! So beautiful, the photo. I have been making my pintos in the slow cooker & it’s great. I wish the whole world, well the States, peeps knew how CHEAP and Easy it is to cook dried beans in a slow cooker, for a few pennies! And crock pots are super cheap!! This looks great-and beats taco salad “out” anyday!! No Vat of oil on these beans!
melody polakow: Vegan for 3.33 a daySeptember 14, 2011 at 11:37 am
Yum!… Taco salad always tastes do decadent and yummy.. I love this post..
Colleen GalofaroSeptember 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm
I am considering getting a pressure cooker, because I am just amazed by the energy-saving capacity it has. What kind do you have or recommend?
And, as always, the clean simplicity of your dishes always inspire me. Thank you!
MerriSeptember 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm
Hi this looks yummy! Is there a way to use canned beans??
MOSeptember 20, 2011 at 11:52 am
Thanks for the tips about the tomato paste! Perfect!
KazJanuary 1, 2012 at 11:20 am
Tried these beans today – kids loved them!
sherriJanuary 1, 2012 at 11:21 am
HI Susan, I have been a subscriber to your newsletter for several years now,and it’s always interesting. I read Dr Fuhrmans book about 3 years ago and went vegan. I had never looked or felt better! I have recently fell off the plan myself and am finding it so hard to get back to what I know I need to do. So after reading your comments yesterday on line,I decided that it’s time for me to commit myself once again to good healthy food! Thanks for inspiring me.
p.s. no agave nectar??? really???
Susan VoisinJanuary 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm
Oh, sorry about the agave nectar, but it’s liquid sugar! I’m going to be using stevia from now on and hope to come up with a few recipes using it.
Congrats on committing to get back on the plan. I know you can do it!
Katharine in BrusselsJanuary 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm
Thank you Susan, the chili beans and salad recipe look terrific! I have missed good ol’ chili beans from a can but they are prohibitively expensive here in Belgium. What a delight to find your recipe. I will give it a try–it’s going to be better than the massive greens + cooked non-starchy veg + garbanzo bean salad I had today. Merci beaucoup / bedankt uit Brussel!
Katharine in BrusselsFebruary 4, 2013 at 9:37 am
The chili beans are on my stove right now, and the fresh salsa is in a Tupperware. Merci beaucoup for putting the recipes for those up as they are hard to find reasonably priced here in Belgium. I’ve been missing for ten years a wonderful vegan fat free canned chili bean that I used to find everywhere in America, it was so nice to find your recipe. Thanks for everything! They are going into salads for this week, and breakfast burritos in the freezer for next.
ChristinaApril 6, 2013 at 8:58 am
Hi Susan, thanks for the great vegan roasted asparagus soup recipe. It so much tastier than with steamed ones! An idea: after washing the asparagus i peel (the white ones) them, chop or break off the ends and put the peel and the ends into a pot and boil it all. Makes a great aspargus broth for the soup.
Christina from Switzerland (we are known for not wasting anything ;-))
GennySeptember 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm
I love beans! I’ve been experimenting lately with soaking and not soaking and soaking for a short while. I have found that it really doesn’t take that much longer to cook if I don’t soak, but they are “gassier” in the end! Also some things I’ve read say that you can’t really get them clean and remove crop dust unless you soak beans for 6-8 hours. I’m not sure about the science behind that statement though. Do you have any thoughts on the soaking or not soaking debate?
Diane YriSeptember 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm
I lived in Okinawa for 10 years, and taco rice is very popular there with the locals since taco shells or tortilla chips are not readily available. Since then, I’ve adapted my own style of taco rice. I use brown rice as the base of the salad. I also cook bags of black beans and kidney beans to use (it’s a great way to serve a crowd!) I use romaine lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, rice, and whatever vegetables I have. I also cut up mangoes and avocados to top it off with as well as salsa. I have served this to 50 people before, and everyone always loves it.
louiseSeptember 23, 2013 at 10:18 am
I made this whole dish this weekend, made 2lbs of the beans and froze the extra in small containers for the future. Both recipes are perfect! I couldn’t find the whole hot peppers and just subbed 1 Tbs dried red pepper flakes for 2lbs of.beans. I used the crock pot. Delicious!
JillJanuary 3, 2015 at 2:53 am
Another great recipe for my diet. I have to cut bean recipes in half because of my smaller sized slow cooker. Can’t wait to try this, it’ll be a welcome change from the canned chili beans. Pico de gallo and lime juice make an easy and healthy low-calorie salad dressing.